Former junk bond king Michael Milken received what was described as a hero’s welcome Tuesday at Goldman Sachs as he lectured the firm’s top executives in a closed-door meeting that some at the firm say is part of a broader rehabilitation effort n for the controversial financier, the FOX Business Network has learned.
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The meeting was arranged by Goldman’s chief executive, David Solomon, who worked for Milken at Drexel Burnham Lambert in the 1980s and spoke last year at a high-profile conference Milken sponsors in Los Angeles through his think tank, the Milken Institute. Drexel filed for bankruptcy in 1990 amid a wide-ranging investigation into securities fraud and alleged improprieties that landed Milken in jail for 22 months following a guilty plea. As part of his sentencing, he is still barred from conducting business in the securities industry.
Since that time, Milken has sought to remake his image and secure a pardon for the charges that he privately believes he was unjustly accused of and forced to plea to. His supporters point out that his junk bond deals also financed some of today’s leading companies and he has been influential in philanthropic circles, including research for cancer, following his own battle with the disease.
The Milken Institute, meanwhile, is highly regarded for its economic research and conferences, which bring together thought leaders in politics, finance, media and culture.
Milken’s time at Goldman spanned most of the day on Tuesday, beginning with a well-attended private gathering of partners and managing directors, concluding with a discussion between Solomon and Milken in front of a packed crowd of hundreds of employees in the firm’s auditorium, people with knowledge of the matter tell FOX Business. The topics ranged from the current state of the markets, economic policy and even structured finance.
Milken even addressed the importance of intellectual property — one of the current Trump administration’s biggest concerns in its dealing with China over trade.
A spokesman for Goldman declined comment. A spokesman for Milken said in a statement: “What he spoke about yesterday…was Milken Institute programs, demographics, capital structure, the just-reported reduction in cancer deaths.”
In recent months, some people close to President Trump, including his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, have advocated a pardon for Milken given his post-Drexel activities. Giuliani, it should be noted, led the federal prosecution of Milken when he was U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
It’s unclear if the president intends to move forward with a pardon of Milken, which would allow him to return to the securities business. Trump is immersed in his own legal difficulties involving a special prosecutor probe of possible Russian collusion in his 2016 presidential election campaign and his private business dealings before he became president.
A White House spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
People with direct knowledge of Milken’s speech at Goldman said he steered clear of politics, including any criticism of the Trump administration’s economic policies. Many Wall Street executives have applauded Trump’s move to slash taxes and regulations but have been critical of his positions on trade, which include using tariffs to gain leverage in negotiations with various partners, including China.
Milken’s discussion before the broader audience at Goldman is part of an internal program at the firm known as “Talks at GS,” which features a wide range of personalities in media, sports, entertainment and business.
According to Goldman’s website, past speakers include General Motors CEO Mary Barra, Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger, TV broadcaster Katie Couric and former NBA star Magic Johnson.
Many of the discussions can be seen on Goldman’s website; Goldman intends to post the Milken interview shortly.